Last night I tweeted an article about how writing makes you learn better. My experience isn’t so much with learning, but with organizing thoughts and problem solving.
When I have an email to write that is either full of many interconnected ideas, or is sensitive in nature, I reach for the pen and paper. The mechanics of physically writing the words are slow enough to allow my brain time to contemplate the larger point I am trying to make. Very rarely is my handwritten version typed verbatim; the published version is more succinct and concise. Fewer words mean less chance of misunderstanding, and this is critical when the wrong word can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
I also reach for my pen when I have a tough problem to solve. Trying to write a summary of the problem forces me to rethink the problem, and I usually don’t get the summary written down before I have a solution. This happens because I am forced to slow down and think about what I’m trying to convey.
The next time you find yourself in one of these situations, pick up a pen or pencil and start writing. The few extra minutes you spend organizing your thoughts will pay dividends in the long run.
(And yes, this post was drafted with pen and paper.)